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Japanese Tea Culture

"Ocha no ko saisai" - That's piece of cake

If you heard the expression of "ocha no ko saisai" you may picture someone's face of full confidence. This expression has same meaning of "that's piece of cake" in English, and origined from the beat phrase of the songs "non no ko saisai". However what is the mean of Ocha no ko (child of tea)? The word of "ocha no ko" started to be used from long time ago in Japan. There was a famous court noble called Tokitsugu Yamashina during Sengoku period, and he often mentioned in his diary that when he stayed at the house of Yoshimoto Imamoto in Sumpu (old name of Shizuoka city), he often had drink with his close monk and had Ocha no ko as horsd'oeuvre.
During the Edo period there were venders on the street to sell "cha no ko mochi" for the light breakfast. This was how the word of Ocha no ko used to be used, however, the actual meaning of Ocha no ko is being told as "like a child who follows the tea".
The expression of tea does not only signify a tea for drinking but also tea for eating as tea porridge. Cha no ko not necessary means for the snack for the tea, it also means light meaks, In fact, on the( mountain area?) of upper Tenryu river, the light meals to eat for the breakfast is called "Cha no ko", but it does not come with tea.
By the way, there is the food called "Mago cha" which is eaten by fisherman in Izu. To make Mago cha, put fresh raw bonito on the top of the rice, and pour the hot tea from on the top. Some people say since this food is exceptionally delicious, if you are too slow in motion (mago mago suru in Japanese), someone else come and eat them up, and that's meal is called "Mago cha". However, Kunio Yanagida believes Mago cha (grandchild tea) means a grand son of tea.

(Yoichiro Nakamura)